For the past eight years, just as the temps hit their lowest in South Florida, Jupiter’s Abacoa welcomes a collection of brewers for one of the best craft beer festivals in the Southeast. The two-day Field of Beers and the Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival have become the standard bearer for the milieu of beer festivals that have sprouted around Palm Beach County, consistently bringing in the best and brightest brewers in the country.
The brainchild of Fran Andrewlevich, co-founder and master brewer of Tequesta Brewing Co. (which just celebrated its three-year anniversary), JCBF is a celebration of all things hoppy, malty and frothy—an extension of his passion for craft beer.
“The events have really come a long way, as well as craft beer in Florida in general, since the beginning," Andrewlevich says. "When the Jupiter beer fest started, we had just over 1,000 attendants, whereas the last four years we have had to limited it to 3,000 max capacity. We have come from 26 booths the first year, seven of which were Florida breweries, to now having 60 booths, 33 of which are Florida breweries. When we started, there weren’t even 33 breweries in the state.”
Now, the festival and its sixth annual pre-event, Field of Beers, attracts world-class brewers from points all over. Field of Beers kicks off the Abacoa party January 24, taking over the dugouts and field in Roger Dean Stadium. Sixteen brewers pair up with seven local chefs to create one specialty beer with an expertly matched bite.
“The beer and the food level on Friday is really high,” says Andrewlevich, who will pair an English-style black walnut stout with Tiramisu in a Cup, made in an Oceana Espresso reduction. “I start talking to the brewers six months out, asking them what can they do fun for the night. Everyone brings their big guns because they appreciate the level of the event itself.”
Of the 16 breweries attending, 12 are from Florida, speaking to the steady growth of craft beer in the state. Pours will include the inventive: Funky Buddha’s maple bacon coffee porter and Green Room Brewing’s Quetzalcoatl imperial Mayan red (a red ale brewed with cassava root, Pablano and Serrano peppers, then aged on chocolate and vanilla beans); the twist on traditional: Cigar City’s ginger lemongrass IPA and Swamp Head Brewing’s Lloyd’s Holiday Ale (notes of pine and spruce mingle with the malt); to just plain special, like Stone Brewing Co.’s 2008 bitter chocolate oatmeal stout and a special collaboration beer between Brooklyn Brewery and Amacord Brewery from Apecchio, Italy, using water from springs tapping back to the Roman empire.
Seven local chefs will join the party, preparing comfort food with a gourmand’s twist. Classic beer bites done gourmet style include Tim Lipman’s smoked duck meatballs, Roy Villacrusis’ fermented Thai sausage and Ryan Trinkofsky’s homemade fried bologna sandwiches.
One of the best parts of the evening is its exclusivity. The guest list is limited to just 350, with tickets selling out in a lightning fast hour and a half. For a sneak peek at the breweries on tap, click here.
- On January 25, JCBF takes over near the gates of Roger Dean Stadium with a raucous crowd of 3,000 from 1-5 p.m. In its eighth year, JCBF has grown substantially, brining in more than 70 brewers and distributors to pour nearly 200 different quaffs. Set up in true festival format, the festival lets beer enthusiasts hop from station to station, tasting glass in hand, filling up on pours directly from the brewers. “Its a great weekend and a great time,” Andrewlevich says. “It's educational if you are interested in brewing. The beer is great, the food is phenomenal and the venue is like no other.”
- Admission costs $35.
- Online sales have tapped out, and just 1,500 tickets are available at the gate. Arrive early, as they will sell out.
- For more information on the breweries and event, visit jupitercraftbrewersfestival.com.
Two other concurrent beer-centric events are happening in Abacoa:
- On January 24, Das Biergarten will host a dueling cask night, pitting Tequesta Brewing Co.’s papaya-infused Gnarley Barley against Due South’s Saigon wheat cask (an infusion of cucumber, lime and jalapeno). Who will be crowned champion? You be the judge. The battle will rage from 6-9 p.m.
On January 25, just outside of the JCBF grounds, Craftoberfest will take over the Abacoa amphitheater with a beer tent, traditional German food and the authentic German band Sonnenschein Express, hailing from Epcot Center. A little more family-oriented, Craftoberfest is not 21 and up, is dog friendly and is free.
Field of Brews: January 24, 6-9 p.m., SOLD OUT.
Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival: January 25, 1-5:30 p.m., $35 per ticket--cash only (1,500 online--SOLD OUT; 1,500 at the door; 21 and up)
Craftoberfest: January 25, 2-7 p.m., free to the public